25 May 2020 – SenseTime Expands to Help Track Coronavirus

The Big Ones

Chinese AI software provider SenseTime has expanded its visual surveillance technology to assess the internal temperature of individuals in order to more efficiently track coronavirus patients, and is considering seeking $1bn in funding. Reports in March suggested it was chasing $500m to $1bn in lieu of an IPO, but sources have told the Wall Street Journal it is now considering a $1bn fundraise at a post-money valuation of $9.5bn. No word on possible participants yet, but its existing backers include Qualcomm Ventures, Alibaba, Suning and Dalian Wanda.

ADC Therapeutics is the latest pharmaceutical company to buck the market downturn to successfully go public, and it certainly has proven to be a successful IPO. The cancer therapy developer – a spinoff from AstraZeneca – floated above its range in an upscaled offering and has now closed that IPO at almost $268m after its shares rose significantly on their first day of trading. Passage Bio, Zentalis, Keros Therapeutics and Oric Pharmaceuticals have had similarly profitable IPOs in the past two months.

Mauritius-based venture capital firm Novastar Ventures has raised $108m from limited partners including insurance firm Axa for its second Africa-focused fund. Axa’s Impact Fund joined the European Investment Bank (EIB), the state-owned Dutch Good Growth Fund and Proparco, Norfund, Sifem and CDC Group: development banks representing France, Norway, Switzerland and the UK respectively. Multiple unnamed family offices also participated alongside unspecified investors from Novastar’s first fund, which closed at $80m in 2015 with backing from Axa Investment Management, financial services firms Triodos Bank and JP Morgan, CDC, Proparco, Norfund, EIB, Fisea and FMO. Novastar targets startups located in East and West Africa and has built a 15-strong portfolio, investing from $250,000 for an early round, up to a total of $8m in each company. Its investments include off-grid solar system provider SolarNow and organic food supplier GreenPath.

In crossover news, SQZ Biotechnologies, a US-based cellular vaccine developer spun out of MIT, has closed a $65m series D round that included GV and Illumina Ventures, respective investment subsidiaries of internet technology conglomerate Alphabet and genomics technology producer Illumina. The round was led by Singaporean government-owned investment firm Temasek and also featured NanoDimension, Polaris Partners, an unnamed US-based fund and JDRF T1D Fund, which is managed by diabetes-focused charity JRDF. SQZ is working on cell therapies that exploit the body’s immune system to fight diseases. The series D proceeds will enable the company, which has so far focused on cancer and autoimmune diseases, to expand its cellular vaccine development platform into infectious diseases. It will also begin work on a point-of-care system that could allow treatments to be generated in clinics.

Deals

Messaging and social communication apps have seen user numbers and business boom in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, and Discord is no different. Although some companies (see Giphy and NextVR below) are facing acquisitions at reduced valuations, Discord is reportedly in talks with potential investors over a funding round set to value it between $3bn and $4bn. That’s a sizeable increase from the $2.05bn valuation at which it raised $150m from investors including Tencent in late 2018.

Augmented reality technology developer Magic Leap has had question marks over its business for years as it struggled to build a customer base despite raising over $2.6bn in funding and hitting a $6.3bn valuation. The company was reportedly set to cut around 1,000 staff members, but has managed to pull in $350m from undisclosed new and existing backers. It’s still going ahead with cuts, alongside a slight pivot to enterprise customers, but hopefully they won’t be as bad. Its earlier investors include Google, Alibaba, Qualcomm Ventures, Legendary Entertainment, Warner Bros, Grupo Globo and Axel Springer, but it’s unclear how many of them – if any – chipped in this time.

E-commerce group JD.com’s maintenance, research and operations subsidiary, JD MRO, has received $230m in series A financing from GGV Capital, Sequoia Capital China and Citic Group subsidiary CPE. JD MRO follows in the footsteps of other JD.com spinoffs such as JD Health, JD Logistics and JD Digits which have also achieved unicorn status.

SoftBank revealed that its first Vision Fund has closed for new investments, but it still has powder left over for portfolio companies, one of which is construction services provider Katerra. Vision Fund has invested $200m in Katerra having previously led a round that closed at $999m in late 2018. Reports early last year suggested it could lead a $700m round for Katerra at a valuation potentially topping $4bn, but the reduced size is probably a sign that valuation has also dropped.

Throughout the disruption over recent weeks, telehealth has been one of the standout areas of the tech space that has done very well. Amwell (formerly known as American Well) claims the sector has made two years of progress in two months, and it has closed $194m in series C funding from investors including Takeda and Allianz X. The latter took part as an existing backer, Amwell’s earlier investors also including Philips and Teva.

RallyBio is developing treatments for rare and serious diseases, and has secured $145m in a series B round led by Nan Fung’s Pivotal BioVenture Partners fund. Mitsui & Co Global Investment and Fidelity’s F-Prime Capital were also among the participants in the round, which will fund a phase 1/2 trial for RallyBio’s lead candidate that is expected to kick off later this year.

Digital banking has done well so far in 2020, and the latest neobank to close a nine-figure round is Aspiration, which has secured $135m in series C funding from investors including IUBS hedge fund manager UBS O’Connor. Aspiration targets a more ethical model of investment and cash management and its earlier investors include Renren, the social media platform that caused a stir when it began investing heavily in fintech earlier this decade. Apart from Aspiration and SoFi, those bets are yet to really pay off, but the strategy itself looks sounder than ever.

States Title operates in another part of the fintech space, having developed AI software that automates part of the title and escrow element of real estate transactions, but it’s raised $123m in a series C round featuring Assurant and corporate venture capital units Lennar Ventures and Scor Global P&C Ventures. The real estate industry has been affected by Covid-19 restrictions but investors clearly believe in the underlying potential of State Title’s technology, which could help fulfil tech’s promise of simplifying complex financial transactions.

Rapid Micro, a provider of automated microbial contamination detection systems, said this week it has also seen business pick up lately, and it has completed a $120m financing round featuring Asahi Kasei Medical. The round expanded the company’s overall funding to more than $255m and shows that while the greatest rewards may be reaped by whoever comes up with the first viable Covid-19 vaccine, it’s providing a boost to practically the entire healthcare sector.

Masterclass may not be a healthtech company but its remote learning service, which provides video tutorials hosted by well-known experts and celebrities such David Axelrod, Neil Gaiman and Gordon Ramsay, lies in an online services space that has benefitted from the coronavirus lockdown. It has raised $100m in a series E round led by Fidelity at a reported valuation of more than $800m, boosting its total funding to more than $263m. Bloomberg Beta, WME Ventures, Novel TMT and Evolution Media are all earlier investors.

Digital bank Monzo is also looking for new funding and is reportedly after approximately $85m to $98m, though it looks likely to be at a reduced valuation. The company raised $144m last June from investors including Orange Digital Ventures and Stripe at $2.55bn valuation but sources informed the Financial Times that the new round will probably cut that to about $1.5bn. Some fintech developers have been relatively unaffected by the Covid-19 downturn but online banking does not seem to be among them.

Chinese online fitness community and technology provider Keep has raised $80m in a series E round featuring Tencent and Bertelsmann Asia Investments that increased its valuation to more than $1bn. Both corporate backers were existing investors in Keep – which has now received more than $260m altogether – going back to at least 2016.

Exits

Healthcare companies have been doing well, not least the ones brave enough to opt for an initial public offering. ADC Therapeutics, a cancer therapy developer spun off by AstraZeneca’s Spirogen subsidiary, withdrew its initial attempt to go public last year, but refiled late last month and has now raised nearly $233m in its IPO. That’s an upsized offering that involved ADC floating at $19 per share, above the IPO’s $16 to $18 range. Its shares closed at almost $30 after its first day of trading.


“Funky Chunk” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

17 June 2019 – GE Ventures to Sell its Portfolio

A fascinating feature for you courtesy of Tony Askew, co-founder and partner of REV Venture Partners, who spoke with Global Corporate Venturing about how the media industry has evolved since the corporate venturing unit was launched in 2000. Insights provided by Askew included how its co-investments with In-Q-Tel have helped the unit, while he also explained the group’s aim was to stay three to seven years ahead of everyone else.

Funds

WTW to broker corporate venturing deals

Third Rock counts $770m for fifth fund

Invengo invigorates $145m IoT fund

Crane crowns $90m close for first fund

Wavemaker drifts to $60m close for third fund

Exits

Salesforce processes $15.7bn Tableau acquisition

CrowdStrike is going public today after pricing a $612m IPO that represents a huge jump up from less than two weeks ago, when it was slated to float in an offering that would have raised $378m at its mid-point.

Merck & Co has agreed to acquire Tilos Therapeutics, which is developing antibodies to treat cancer, fibrosis and autoimmune diseases, in a deal that could potentially reach $773m once milestone payments are factored in.

That isn’t the only heavy-duty M&A exit to be agreed in the last day or so. H&R Block isbuying accounting software producer Wave Financial for $405m in cash.

Avi networks its way to VMWare acquisition

Barefoot takes next step with Intel purchase

Cvent goes DoubleDutch in acquisition deal

Deals

Short-term accommodation booking platform Oyo has reportedly begun talks with new and existing investors over a $1bn round that would value it at $10bn.

SoftBank’s recently launched $5bn Innovation Fund that focuses on Latin America has entered discussions with Brazil-based digital bank Nubank to lead a funding round that could reach up to $1bn and value the company at $8bn to $10bn – up from a previous reported valuation of $4bn, achieved when the fintech developer collected $180m from Tencent in October 2018.

SoftBank works out $300m Gympass investment

ADC Therapeutics adjusts series E to $276m

South Korea-based Yanolja also operates a short-term hotel business, refitting venues such as love hotels for a millennial user base seeking good quality accommodation on a budget. It has raised $180m in a series D round at a valuation of more than $1bn, with travel booking platform Booking Holdings joining Singapore’s GIC to supply the cash.

Innoviz has boosted a series C round that includes Harel Insurance and Phoenix Insurance from $132m to $170m, the extra funding coming from undisclosed investors.

Symphony plays on with $165m

Shuidi ships in $145m

Thumbtack, the US-based local services listing platform, has collected $120m in series H funding from unnamed investors – reportedly at a flat valuation of $1.3bn.

ShareChat in talks for $100m funding round

Dishangtie parks $100m in series B round

Vectra collects $100m in series E round

Infarm harvests $100m series B round


“Funky Chunk” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

24 October 2016 – Temasek Invests $250m, SoftBank and Saudi Arabia Create a Fund and Much More

Investments

Cancer drug developer ADC Therapeutics has taken its total financing to $225m with a $105m private placement that included existing investor AstraZeneca.

Mobike has closed more than $100m in funding from investors including Tencent.

Mitsui has led a $100m round for MatahariMall.com, an e-commerce platform launched by real estate conglomerate Lippo Group with $500m last year.

Online wholesale alcohol retailer Yijiupi has also raised $100m, in a series C round backed by local reviews and group buying platform Meituan-Dianping which will fuel an expansion drive the company hopes will more than double the 72 Chinese cities in which it operates by the end of 2017.

GE Ventures, Envision Energy and Inven Capital have contributed to a round for energy storage and management technology provider Sonnen that has closed at $85m.

Oblong Industries, a gesture-based user interface spinout of MIT Media Lab, secured $65m in funding on Wednesday from investors including Utimco, the investment arm of University of Texas System.

Temasek, the sovereign wealth fund of Singapore, today invested $250m in US-based healthcare conglomerate Columbia Pacific Management’s Chinese subsidiary Columbia China.

Funds

Online media brands Thrillist, NowThis, The Dodo and Seeker joined forces last week to form a new holding company called Group Nine Media, fueled by a $100m investment by Discovery Communications.

French venture firm Daphni has launched a $165m fund with backing from LPs including corporates Nokia, MAIF and Fnac-Darty.

The government of Saudi Arabia joined forces with Japan-based conglomerate SoftBank on Friday to launch a $100bn vehicle dubbed SoftBank Vision Fund.

Exits

Quantenna, which has raised more than $200m in debt and equity since 2005 from investors including NTT, Vivint, Swisscom and Telefónica, has set the range for an offering that could raise up to $107m.

Gene editing company Crispr Therapeutics went public in a $56m IPO that was priced below its range, but which was executed concurrently to a $35m investment by existing backer Bayer Global Investments.

There’s a big new player in the Asian travel services industry, after MakeMyTrip acquired Ibibo Group in an all-share deal that reportedly valued Ibibo at $720m.

Salesforce has scored a decent-sized exit after cloud services provider Appirio agreed to a $500m acquisition by IT services firm Wipro.

Investment manager and research provider Morningstar has agreed to acquire financial data platform Pitchbook in a $180m deal that will see it buy the 80% of the company it does not already own.

Curtin University spinout ePat Technologies, which is developing facial recognition technology, floated on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) on Thursday.

General trading firm Mitsubishi Corporation purchased a 60% stake on Friday in ElectroRoute, an Ireland-based energy trading and services firm backed by government-owned export development agency Enterprise Ireland.

People

Dinesh Moorjani has become Comcast Ventures’ ninth managing director, joining the unit from Warburg Pincus.

Bruce Zimmerman, chief executive of Utimco, last week announced that he is stepping down from the position after a decade of leading the investment company of University of Texas System and Texas A&M System. Zimmerman was appointed as chief executive and chief investment manager in 2007.

Edinburgh Research and Innovation (ERI), the commercialisation arm of Edinburgh University, has appointed George Baxter as its new chief executive effective October 24.


“Funky Chunk” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0